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Ragged Children, Mended Lives?

A permanent gallery display with a linked set of educational resources for work with schools, developed in collaboration with the Ragged School Museum.

Ragged Children, Mended Lives? Childhood, Poverty and Philanthropy in Late Victorian London
  • School/Institute/Department: School of Geography, School of English and Drama
  • Subjects: History, Museums, Collaboration, Cultural Institutions, Exhibitions
  • Audience: General Public, School groups

Ragged Children, Mended Lives? Childhood, Poverty and Philanthropy in Late Victorian London is a permanent gallery display at the local Ragged School Museum, with a linked set of educational resources for work with schools. 

It was developed by an inter-disciplinary team including members from QMUL's School of Geography and School of English and Drama, who collaborated with Barnardo’s children’s charity and the Ragged School Museum.

The gallery explores the issues of poverty, precarity, poor health and emigration on the children of the late-nineteenth-century East End, and considers the complex legacy of the work of Dr Thomas Barnardo (who established the original school that occupied the museum’s building) and similar philanthropists and social investigators in attempting to change conditions and help the needy.

The new display was opened on 20th October 2015 by the 12th Earl of Shaftesbury, descendant of the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury who founded the Ragged School Union in 1844. The opening attracted 200 guests and was covered by TV and radio.

The educational materials, aimed at Key Stages 2 and 3, are designed to be used on- or off-site, and to help the Ragged School deliver on its commitment to experiential learning, innovative pedagogy and community involvement.

The team took a collaborative and multidisciplinary character, with academic researchers working from the outset with the Ragged School Museum’s Director and Learning Officer, its educational consultants and school contacts, and its curators and panel creators, to ensure that all groups' expertise and insight was drawn upon. The project has developed sustained relationships between QMUL, the Ragged School Museum, Barnardo’s Archive and other local heritage organisations and practitioners.

This project is innovative because of its intensely collaborative and multidisciplinary character, rather than the university being responsible for ‘research’ and the museum taking care of ‘dissemination’
Alastair Owens, School of Geography

The project has since opened up the possibility of further activity, including public events and further research projects, as well as integration into the forthcoming Centre for Childhood Culture, a joint venture between QMUL and the V&A Museum of Childhood.

You can view an interim report for the project here.

The 'Ragged Children, Mended Lives?' exhibition received small award funding from the Centre for Public Engagement.

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